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"There's no doubt in my mind that if terrorists had acquired a nuclear weapon, they would not hesitate to use it." Former CIA covert operations officer Valerie Plame Wilson
Countdown to Zero is as apocalyptic as An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore's documentary on global warming: It is fear-mongering enough that it hurts the effort to bring a necessary return to Cold- War thinking.
Countdown to Zero is single minded in its effort to have zero nuclear weapons, of which there are more than 23,000 in the world. When the documentary arrives at calling for a popular movement, by which President Kennedy admitted he was influenced, it loses some credibility. No amount of popular demand will, for instance, change Osama bin Laden's resolve to exact the deaths of millions of Americans should he gain the necessary ingredients. The documentary's point can't be denied: Nuclear proliferation is so possible now that it seems almost impossible to stop it. The sloppy Russian storage of enriched uranium and plutonium is scary. Although over a hundred countries have disavowed nuclear weapons, hundreds like the US and Russia jealously retain them and some sell the theory if not the ingredients.
In a film almost devoid of light moments, the sometimes amusing Boris Yeltsin in 1995 inadvertently showed how serendipity can be a force in our favor. He questioned if the US had launched a missile toward Russia even though his advisors said it had. He prevailed, Russia did not retaliate, and the world discovered that only a scientific rocket had been launched. Whew!
Countdown to Zero makes a manipulative point by showing people in the street calling for zero weapons. Where are those opposed to zero? Most of us agree to a total ban except those security-minded who know deterrence is still a trump card impressive to diplomats and terrorists. While this documentary adds a little to the race to disarm, it lacks the balance a fair documentary should have. But then, Al Gore and Michael Moore haven't been accused of being balanced either, and they both live in nice houses.
Fox News abandoned its balancing act long ago in the face of soaring ratings. Who said life is fair? or balanced?
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